Arthritis of the elbow occurs when there is an inflammation in the joint of the elbow caused when the cartilage surface of the elbow becomes damaged or worn. Similar to arthritis in other areas of the body, elbow arthritis can be the result of a degenerative disease, aging, general wear and tear, trauma or a prior injury that existed in the area.

Symptoms of Arthritis of the Elbow

Elbow arthritis symptoms range from mild to severe. In most cases, the symptoms will begin gradually and become worse over time. Elbow joint pain, swelling in the elbow area, stiffness, joint locking, redness and warmth as well as an overall difficulty in movement of the elbow area are all common symptoms associated with elbow arthritis.

Treatments for Arthritis of the Elbow

Non-Surgical

There are treatment options for arthritis of the elbow.  Rest is the most important recommendation. For individuals suffering from elbow arthritis, over-use of the joint almost always worsens the symptoms. Many patients can live with the symptoms for years and will only need to take pain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and/or receive cortisone shots to help relieve elbow arthritis symptoms. Physical therapy exercises also help.  For individuals suffering from elbow arthritis, over-use of the joint almost always worsens the symptoms. For those who experience chronic elbow arthritis symptoms and whose arthritis continues to worsen, surgery is available.

Surgical

Arthritis in the very early stages can be controlled and treated with arthroscopic techniques. During this procedure, Dr. Millett will trim out and remove the inflamed and degenerative tissue and loose bodies within the joint. Arthroscopic treatment for elbow arthritis will not cure the arthritic condition, but it will prolong more drastic measures and relieve many of the symptoms for a while.

In more severe elbow arthritis conditions where elbow arthroscopic surgery may not be effective, joint supplementation or joint replacement may be recommended. These procedures have a very good reputation for offering pain relief, and often will restore motion.  During these procedures, the joint surfaces are surgically replaced through a 2-5” incision and hardware is used to take the place of the joint.

Before a treatment plan can be put into place, Dr. Millett will need to examine the elbow and determine the cause of the elbow arthritis, the stage it is in and then develop a course of treatment that works best for the patient.